Identity: Who are you and Who’s are you?
Identity: Who are you and Who’s are you?
A monk once walked into a city. As he approached the gate to the city the guard on the wall shouted to him, “Stop! Who are you, and what are you doing?” The monk was very surprised and asked the man what he had just said. The guard once again said, “Who are you, and what are you doing?”.....
This monk believed that those two questions were extremely important, and I do too. As we continue through our series talking about love and relationships I want to specifically focus on that first question today. “Who are you?” We can’t talk about relationships without understanding what a godly relationship involves and doesn’t involve. Tonight I am going to address two very controversial subjects that you are all very familiar with. We are going to talk about homosexuality and gender identity. Many of you probably have a friend or friends at school who have come out to you as gay, or maybe some of you are struggling with homosexuality yourselves. Even less common, but I wouldn’t be surprised, is some of you probably know someone or maybe even yourself who questions their gender identity. There is without a doubt a lot of confusion surrounding these topics. Many of you have probably heard many different sides of the story and you really aren’t sure what to think. If you’ve been in church long enough or read the Bible you know that it says homosexuality is a sin, but this doesn’t make things any easier. If you’re best friend comes out to you, you still want to love them and support them, but its often difficult because you don’t know how to balance truth and love - if indeed you believe that what the Bible says is the truth. Even harder, if any of you struggle with homosexuality or your gender identity, reading those passages can be very scary. You want to obey God, but you also know how you feel, and many times those feelings are legitimate. So what do you do about it? I know these are tricky things to talk about, and I’ll be honest this might be the most difficult lesson I have ever taught, but I want you guys to know the truth. What I say tonight is probably gonna be different than what you hear from other people, especially non-Christians, and that’s okay. I want you to decide for yourself who you think is right. I honestly can’t imagine living in a more confusing time than now. To make things worse, these are issues that really aren’t even talked about, and if you have a “different” view on them, you can easily be labeled as “hateful” or that you don’t respect or care for someone. That’s why this lesson is tough for me too. I hope by the end of the night you’ll have a better understanding of these issues from a biblical perspective. It starts with this: I firmly believe that these two issues, as well as many others are rooted in one thing: identity. So with that, I ask you once again, “Who are you?”
The Image of God (Circle Sketch - Pieces of the Identity Pie)
The Image of God (Circle Sketch - Pieces of the Identity Pie)
Perhaps a better question that will help answer that is, “Who’s are you?” We often find our identity in who or what we belong to. You can think of it as a pie. Each piece represents a part of who you are, and its usually a group, and each piece adds to your identity. Now usually, whatever group we allow to be the biggest “piece of the pie” is typically what we identify ourselves with, and the rest becomes secondary. But there is something else here that’s right in the center that is greater than all of these “pieces” that truly identifies us, or should. Turn with me to the first page of the Bible and I’ll show you. In verse 24, God has created everything and the only thing he hasn’t created yet is, us! So look what he says in verse 24 - READ 24-26.
Did you guys catch that? We are all made in the image of God. Every single one of us was made uniquely and wonderfully in His image. We are the only thing in all of creation that God made to be like him! This is why he loves us so much more than anything else! We are his prized possession. Ladies, you are his princesses made exactly the way he wanted you. Boys, you are his princes, made the way he wanted you to be! This is one reason why Jesus died for us, because God would literally rather die than spend eternity without you. He loves you that much. If you take anything away from this message tonight I hope its that right there: you are made in the image of God and you are loved by him and this makes you unique just the way you are!
Theres a problem with the image of God. It’s not the image itself that is the problem but its that we kind of messed it up. We broke it because of our sin. But the imago dei is still there, each of us still has it, this is why even the worst humans still have a little bit of good in them somewhere, because no matter how much they’ve broken the imago dei its still there. Once again, this is where Jesus comes in. Jesus came to redeem us, and to fix what was broken. He fixes the broken Imago Dei through the Holy Spirit by making us more like himself…since after all Jesus is the God who’s image we were made in. *Spoiler alert* that is what the Christian life is all about! Making us more like Jesus. It’s a lifelong journey returning us to perfection by becoming more and more like Christ! If we just understood that the answer to “Who am I?” is “Child of God” because of Christ, 99.999% of our problems would be solved.
Several years ago, when I was in high school, an Ozark professor came to speak to us on Wednesday night and gave a lesson that has impacted my life to this day. It was simple: stop being yourself. We say, “Oh just be yourself.” which sounds great, but at the end of the day, being myself gets me in alot of trouble. Being myself makes me want to sin and disobey God, a lot! So whats the alternative? Even simpler: Be Jesus. Don’t be yourself, Be Jesus. Let’s do a little activity to show you the difference. I’m going to give you a scenario, and then I’m going to ask you to “be yourself” and I want you to answer. Then I’m going to ask you to “be Jesus” and I want you to answer. We’re gonna see if in fact they are different:
You failed your test at school because you were up all night playing video games. Your parents ask you why you failed. Now, just be yourself, what is your answer? Now, just be Jesus, what is your answer?
You’re playing basketball and another player fouls you by knocking you down. You quickly jump up and, being yourself, what do you do? And now, being Jesus, what do you do?
See how being like Jesus totally changes our behavior? That is what it means to live the Christian life! Don’t be yourself, be Jesus.
Now that we have established who we truly are, children of God, what does that mean when it comes to being gay or transgender? Let’s start with transgender. We first have to acknowledge that this is a real thing. People every day struggle to different degrees with their gender identity. If you or your friends are struggling with them then the first step is showing them who they really are: beautiful children of God created in his image. Many want to change their bodies, doing irreversible damage because they think it will help but I promise you guys it won’t. Changing your body because you think you think you were born in the wrong body has never helped anyone. The transgender community has one of the highest rates of suicide, often because even after surgery, people still feel lost, confused, and even worse about themselves. It’s all about getting back to the imago dei. Once we understand that, then we can begin the counseling process of working through these struggles.
Before we move on to talk about homosexuality I want to show you guys a video. It’s the testimony of a man who was transgender, had surgery to become a woman, but then met Jesus and discovered his true identity was as a man of God. I can’t show you the full interview because of time and it’s a pretty graphic testimony, but I do want to show you the last couple of minutes. His name is Diamond Dee...
I want to point out how he said that his friends all told him, “If this is what you want to do, then do it! Be you!” and you’ll hear that a lot. Some might even go as far as to say, “Oh well, God made you that way, he made you transgender.” That’s just flat out wrong. The Bible doesn’t say that. Maybe their god does stuff like that but let me give you two reasons why I wouldn’t like that god. If god put you or your friend in the wrong body, then it made a mistake. I don’t want to worship and serve a god who makes mistakes! Or if he didn’t make a mistake and he put you in the wrong body on purpose…that just seems cruel and mean. I don’t want to worship a god who would do something like that.
I know we’re running short on time, but I really want to talk about what this whole identity thing means for homosexuality. I’m not going to just point to verses in the Bible where we are told that homosexuality is a sin, even though I could, like Leviticus, Romans, 1 Corinthians, Revelation. For many of these passages, being gay is found right alongside other sins like lying, stealing, murder and adultery. Let’s not just single out one sin as being “special” but understand that they are all disobeying God. Second is this, being tempted does not equal sinning. There are many Christians around the world who struggle with homosexuality, but they know it does not please God. They know who they are and who’s they are. Though they may be tempted into such sin, they do not give in. We will talk about ways to avoid sexual sin, both gay and straight in the next couple of weeks. If you are still confused let me put it this way: I might be tempted to steal a candy bar, but I do not sin unless I actually steal the candy bar. If I walk away from it and don’t steal it, I have avoided temptation. Same with lying, murder, gossip, and any other sin. Temptation does not equal sin.
Lastly I want to go back to this pie chart I made earlier. I mentioned that each piece in your pie makes up a part of who you are, but the largest piece is what you typically identify with the most. So for me I am male, straight, white, go to OCC, blah blah blah, but for me there is a piece here that is bigger than all those others and that’s Christianity. I am a Christian, I follow Christ. My identity is found in Christ and while the rest of these may not be bad, they aren’t who I am primarily. So it wouldn’t matter if I was gay or straight, my sexuality doesn’t define me. The world will often try to make orientation the biggest piece of the pie for those who struggle with homosexuality. They will say, “You are gay and that is who you are.” But if you identify with Christ, it doesn’t matter if you are gay or straight as that part of you will submit to Him and he will make you holy.
I know we’ve talked about alot tonight guys and I hope this has helped you understand these issues from a more Biblical perspective. As I said earlier though, if there is one thing that you take away from tonight it is this: You are made in the Image of God and you are loved! Don’t you dare let anyone else tell you any different. When I ask you, “Who are you?” I hope to hear you say, “I am a child of God!”
IF WE HAVE TIME SECOND DIAMOND DEE VIDEO
I want to end with one more video. Its of the same man we saw earlier. After the video, I will pray for us, then we will head to the busses.